After conquering toothpastes and soaps, Patanjali is eyeing yet another market — clean energy.
And its approach, as with its other products, remains unconventional — Patanjali says it’ll harness the power of bulls to generate electricity in rural areas. The company says it’s been researching for over a year and a half into its project, and has finally managed to find some initial success.
The basics of the project are simple. Bulls will pull a turbine, which will rotate and generate electricity. This isn’t an approach that is commonly used, because animals generally can’t move large turbines, and turbine rotations aren’t efficient, leading to losses in electricity production. But Patanjali says that it’s been working with “leading Indian multinational automobile manufacturer” and a Turkish partner to generate a prototype that will generate small amounts of electricity.
Patanjali doesn’t intend to generate electricity on a commercial scale, so don’t expect bulls to replace large power plants any time soon. But the company says that bulls can generate electricity in villages and provide it to nearby homes. The company wants bulls to be used on farms in the mornings, and on electricity turbines in the evenings. Patanjali’s current turbine can reportedly generate 2.5 kilowatts of electricity.
It helps that the project ties in neatly with another of Patanjali’s pet themes — prevention of cow slaughter. “At a time when more and more male bovines are being slaughtered, we want to change the perception that they (bulls) are not very valuable,” Patanjali founder Acharya Balkrishna told Economic Times. “We need to go back to the basics. In ancient times, bulls were used to ferry massive artillery. If their power is put to optimum use with the help of technology, they can be of tremendous use.”
Patanjali isn’t the first company to come up with this idea, but it might be the most prominent. Back in 2007, the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd claimed to have developed a similar system which was to cost Rs. 60,000. Since then, several smaller organizations seem to have hacked together their own solutions, and YouTube is littered with demonstrations of the technology. Patanjali, with its resources, and its ability to execute, might just be in a position to create a product that can find acceptability nationwide.
And Patanjali has shown an ability to quickly make inroads into established markets. It’s leapfrogged multinationals and built itself a Rs. 10,000 crore FMCG business in a few short years. If it’s serious about the project, and manages to find the right technical mix to make it viable, it might just end up affecting real change in rural India.